Ohio State Football: Who Is Replacing Every Buckeye Taken in 2014 NFL Draft
The 2014 NFL draft proved that Ohio State has a lot of talent to replace.
Six former Buckeyes were selected in the seven-round event in New York City last week. Four of those six were drafted within the first 60 picks, so Urban Meyer will need to identify a number of key playmakers.
That process started at the beginning of March with the start of spring practice. When Meyer and the Buckeyes finished up spring drills last month, the new faces started to emerge.
Here are the top candidates to replace each former Buckeye taken the 2014 NFL draft.
The Replacement: Joshua Perry
Ohio State regularly brings 4- and 5-star linebackers to Columbus, but Darron Lee, a 3-star prospect from the Buckeyes' 2013 Class, emerged as a starter this spring.
Lee will fill the void left by Joshua Perry, who is moving over to the other side of the defense to replace Ryan Shazier.
Perry started all of 2013 as the Buckeyes' strong-side linebacker and registered 64 tackles, which ranked fourth on the team, according to Ohio State's official website.
The Buckeyes will need more from Perry this year. Shazier led the Buckeyes in tackles in each of the last two seasons, and in 2013, he led the Big Ten with 143 total tackles and 22.5 tackles for loss.
That's why the Steelers selected him with the 15th pick in the first round.
The Replacement: Armani Reeves
Ohio State ranked No. 110 in pass defense last year, allowing 268 passing yards per game. That was with Bradley Roby in the fold, who was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 31st pick in the first round.
Replacing the strongest member of the secondary won't be easy, but Meyer has turned to junior Armani Reeves.
Roby missed the first and last games of the 2013 season due to suspension and injury. Reeves filled in for Roby and struggled greatly, but he and the secondary look vastly improved heading into 2014.
The Replacement: Ezekiel Elliott
Fifty-three picks were made before the first running back—Washington's Bishop Sankey—came off the board last week. Carlos Hyde was taken three picks later by the San Francisco 49ers.
With the pass-happy nature of the NFL, running backs aren't as highly coveted as they used to be, but that doesn't mean they're not important.
That's certainly true for Ohio State, which is trying to figure out how to replace one of its most productive running backs in school history.
Ezekiel Elliott is in line to take over.
The 4-star burner from St. Louis, Missouri had a solid freshman season last year, piling up 262 yards and two touchdowns on just 30 carries in a limited role. Elliott came out of spring practice as the top guy, and with a solid fall camp, he could solidify himself as the starter for years to come.
The Replacement: Taylor Decker
Jack Mewhort protected Braxton Miller's blind side and anchored Ohio State's offensive line for two consecutive years, a resume strong enough to land him in Indianapolis as the Colts' second-round pick.
Replacing Mewhort and the pivotal role he played won't be easy, and that's why the Buckeyes have turned to Taylor Decker.
Decker started all of last season as Ohio State's right tackle, and by the end of the season, he was one of the Buckeyes' top-performing linemen.
He'll need to be a leader among a unit that is replacing four starters overall.
The Replacement: Chad Lindsay
Corey Linsley was, literally and figuratively, the center of Ohio State's outstanding rushing attack over the last two years. Paired with a strong combine, the Packers took notice and drafted Linsley in the fifth round.
The guy who could wind up replacing him has never donned the scarlet and gray.
Jacoby Boren and Billy Price battled for the center position this spring, but Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay could get the nod over both in the fall.
Lindsay started four games for the Tide last year, and since he graduated after the 2013 season, he'll be eligible to play immediately for the Buckeyes in 2014.
The Replacement: Vonn Bell
When Ohio State lost Christian Bryant for the season at the end of the Wisconsin game, the Buckeyes' chances of playing for a national title—and Bryant's chances of being drafted—plummeted greatly.
With just 16 picks left in the seventh round, the St. Louis Rams called Bryant's name.
Following his injury, the Buckeyes turned to senior safety Corey Brown instead of promising freshman Vonn Bell.
That error was corrected before Ohio State's Orange Bowl matchup with Clemson, and despite getting torched for 378 passing yards by Tajh Boyd and the Tigers offense, Bell showed a lot of promise.
That gave him momentum going into spring drills, but that momentum halted right out of the gate as he suffered a sprained MCL during the Buckeyes' first practice. Bell should be fully recovered for summer conditioning and enter fall camp ready to go.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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